The consequences for getting caught without your license in Colorado depend on the situation. If you've forgotten it, and a police officer stops you, you're looking at a simple traffic ticket. However, if you drive after your license is suspended or revoked, you're considered guilty of Driving Under Restraint under Title 42-2-138 of the state's criminal code. The more DUR convictions you accumulate, the longer you'll wait to drive again.
Driving Without a License
Not having a valid license in your possession while driving is a Class B civil traffic infraction under Title 14-2-101. Fines range from $15 to $100, and no penalty points go on your driving record. If you don't fight the ticket, you must pay it in 20 days -- either by mail to the Division of Motor Vehicles, or in person at your local traffic court. If you do contest the ticket, you may request a hearing before a judge or magistrate. Failure to pay prevents you from renewing your license.
DUR: Legal Definition
Your situation gets more complicated if your license has been taken away and you drive anyway. "Restrained" under Title 42-2-138 refers to any denial, revocation or suspension of driving privileges -- whether it happened in Colorado, or another state. To make a DUR charge stick, a prosecutor must show you drove knowing that your license was under restraint. For statutory purposes, "knowledge" doesn't mean knowledge of a specific restraint, or its duration. The law doesn't distinguish between residents and non-residents.
A first-time offender whose license is restrained for non-alcohol related violations is guilty of a misdemeanor. Such an offense is punishable by a $500 maximum fine, six months of county jail time, and ineligibility for reinstatement of driving privileges for a year. The same consequences apply to second and subsequent offenses -- except you're barred from driving again for three years.
Tougher sanctions apply for drivers who take the road anyway when their license is restrained for alcohol-related offenses, such as like Underage Drunk Driving. Consequences include a mandatory county jail sentence of 30 days to a year, and fines of $500 to $1,000. A subsequent conviction means up to two years of county time, and $3,000 in fines. If the new offense occurred within five years, you'll lose your license for a four-year period. However, a judge may suspend the jail time if you drove because of an emergency.
Once a conviction or judgment of guilt goes on your record, you must immediately surrender whatever license or instructional permit has been granted by Colorado, another state, or foreign country. The court will then submit it with the verdict to the DMV. Anyone who fails to give up his license or permit when required to do so is also guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense. Conviction carries 10 to 90 days of county jail time, fines of $150 to $300, or both.
You must satisfy all license revocation or suspension conditions before applying for reinstatement through the DMV, which is an agency of the Department of Revenue. Complete and mail Form-DR 2870 to: Motor Vehicle Division, 1881 Pierce St., Lakewood, CO 80214. You'll have to include payment for the required $95 fee. If you need more specific advice, call (303) 205-5600, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. As part of the process, you'll have to apply for a new license, which means passing a written and road test.
- Colorado Department of Revenue: Division of Motor Vehicles: Process to Reinstate Driving Privilege
- Colorado Department of Transportation: Model Traffic Code for Colorado
- Colorado Judicial Branch: Answers to Your Questions About County Court Violations
- Kurtz & Peckham: Criminal Law: Traffic Violations: DUR
Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.